three women patient advocates who are a part of the sexual harassment/assault response and prevention program

New Army policy better enables victims to report...

Local News
Aug. 10, 2022

A new policy recently implemented by the Army is designed to help remove possible barriers that may prevent...
Read More
image showing monkeypox

What You Need to Know About Monkeypox

Local News
Aug. 08, 2022

The infectious viral disease monkeypox is slowly spreading around the world, including the United States. On...
Read More
child getting an allergy test

Ask the Doc: Can I Develop Sudden Food Allergies?

Local News
Aug. 05, 2022

Dear Doc: I was at a picnic over the weekend where there were lots of different kinds of foods. Being...
Read More
The health care that the Defense Department provides to service members has not changed despite the Supreme Court decision.

DOD Officials: Women’s Health Care Unchanged by ...

Local News
Aug. 02, 2022

Women’s Health Care Unchanged by Supreme Court Decision.
Read More
Army hearing readiness appointments available on MHS Genesis.

Army hearing readiness appointments available on...

Local News
Jul. 29, 2022

Annual hearing readiness appointments can now be scheduled online via the MHS Genesis Patient Portal.
Read More
Monkeypox is primarily spread from person-to-person through prolonged close contact with an infectious rash, scabs or body fluids, as well as through respiratory droplets or oral fluids.

Monkeypox declared public health emergency: What...

Local News
Jul. 28, 2022

The World Health Organization declared monkeypox a public health emergency on July 23.
Read More
When you’re struggling and in crisis and text 988, your trained counselor will listen, support, and share resources. #988Lifeline

New 988 Number for Mental Health Emergencies

Local News
Jul. 22, 2022

Effective 16 July 2022, “988” will serve as the new direct dial number for the National Suicide Prevention...
Read More
Two military members talking with masks on

San Antonio Market celebrates first anniversary ...

Local News
Jul. 18, 2022

The San Antonio Market will celebrate its one-year anniversary as a unified military healthcare system this...
Read More
Local News | Sept. 16, 2021

Air Force Women’s Initiative Team champions women’s health care

By Shireen Bedi

Lt. Col. Christine Mau, 33rd Operations Group deputy commander, puts on her helmet before taking her first flight in the F-35A on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., May 5, 2015. Mau, who previously flew F-15E Strike Eagles, made history as the first female F-35 pilot in the program. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Marleah Robertson)
First female F-35 pilot begins training
Lt. Col. Christine Mau, 33rd Operations Group deputy commander, puts on her helmet before taking her first flight in the F-35A on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., May 5, 2015. Mau, who previously flew F-15E Strike Eagles, made history as the first female F-35 pilot in the program. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Marleah Robertson)
VIRIN: 150505-F-SI788-099
The Air Force’s Women’s Initiative Team has multiple lines of effort addressing barriers through policy change. The members of the WIT’s Female-Specialized Health Care Programs have a vision to build an Air Force health care system that strengthens high quality women’s care.

“Our goal is to remove barriers so that it is easier for women to continue serving in our Air Force,” said Lt. Col. Jeanette Anderson, perinatal nursing consultant to the U.S. Air Force Surgeon General. “If we can provide the support they need from a health perspective, then we can ensure they are able to stay in the Air Force and are medically ready.”

According to Maj. Emily Yates, a WIT co-lead and health care integrator with the 633rd Medical Group at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, her team’s work is crucial to retention.

“We have discovered that one of the reasons women leave the Air Force has been tied to medical barriers,” said Yates. “Through our health-focused line of effort, we are working on strengthening a health care system that meets our Airmen’s needs.”

In the past year, the WIT’s Female-Specialized Health Care Programs have driven several policy changes. In February, hair standard policies were changed based on feedback received from Airmen who identified numerous health concerns around the bun.

“The WIT conducted polling, interviews and other grassroots data and we found that women were experiencing headaches, hairline cysts and hair loss as a result of hair policies,” said Master Sgt. Johnathon Lind, Department of the Air Force Barrier Analysis Working Group for the WIT. “We also learned from Veterans Affairs that 40% of hair issues came from women, but women only make up 20% of the force. We knew we had to update our policies surrounding hair.

“It was through the WIT that we were able to gain the support from other Air Force entities, major commands and wing leadership. We briefed Gen. Charles Brown, Jr., Air Force Chief of Staff, and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Joanne S. Bass on the proposed changes.”

Read more: Air Force to allow longer braids, ponytails, bangs for women

Another completed initiative pushed by this team is lactation accommodation for Air Force service members and civilian employees.

“Finalized this summer, this policy change allows those who return to work, after giving birth, the appropriate accommodations to express milk while they are at work so they can both feed their baby and maintain their health,” said Anderson.

Read more: Air Force improves lactation support for nursing mothers

The U.S. Air Force also updated its convalescent leave policy for Airmen and Guardians who experience a miscarriage or stillbirth, allowing them the time to heal and recover.

With this policy update, as outlined in Air Force Manual 41-210, there will be standardized convalescent leave, distinct from parental leave policies, for service members who experience perinatal loss. This change provides a critical update to support women who do not qualify for parental leave.

“Prior to this, women would only be eligible for parental leave if they had a qualifying birth event, meaning they delivered a baby and took that baby home with them,” said Lt. Col. Larissa Weir, chief women’s health consultant to the Air Force Surgeon General. “But for women who experienced a loss, we were seeing significant variation in the duration of leave they received. We put together this update to standardize that leave based upon how far along in the pregnancy they were.”

Specifically, this policy grants up to 42 days of leave based on the woman’s gestational age and any additional medical provider recommendations. The policy also includes Airmen and Guardians who decide to place their baby for adoption immediately following birth.

The WIT is entirely made up of volunteers ranging in ranks and backgrounds who are driven to create necessary policy changes that removes barriers to service. For Lind, women’s health issues is not a women’s-only issue and should be something in which the entire Air Force should be involved.

“The WIT isn’t just for women and I am trying to be an example of that,” said Lind. “Any issue they are experiencing is also my issue. That’s what drives me to be a part of this team. When you are a minority population within a group, it can be tough to make necessary changes, so it is important we bring the whole team together to solve these problems.”

For those who are interested joining the WIT can find more information on the WIT’s Air Force Portal page [Note: This site is restricted and requires a common access card; users without a common access card will receive a website error message].

Local News

 

 

Local News | Sept. 16, 2021

Air Force Women’s Initiative Team champions women’s health care

By Shireen Bedi

Lt. Col. Christine Mau, 33rd Operations Group deputy commander, puts on her helmet before taking her first flight in the F-35A on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., May 5, 2015. Mau, who previously flew F-15E Strike Eagles, made history as the first female F-35 pilot in the program. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Marleah Robertson)
First female F-35 pilot begins training
Lt. Col. Christine Mau, 33rd Operations Group deputy commander, puts on her helmet before taking her first flight in the F-35A on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., May 5, 2015. Mau, who previously flew F-15E Strike Eagles, made history as the first female F-35 pilot in the program. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Marleah Robertson)
VIRIN: 150505-F-SI788-099
The Air Force’s Women’s Initiative Team has multiple lines of effort addressing barriers through policy change. The members of the WIT’s Female-Specialized Health Care Programs have a vision to build an Air Force health care system that strengthens high quality women’s care.

“Our goal is to remove barriers so that it is easier for women to continue serving in our Air Force,” said Lt. Col. Jeanette Anderson, perinatal nursing consultant to the U.S. Air Force Surgeon General. “If we can provide the support they need from a health perspective, then we can ensure they are able to stay in the Air Force and are medically ready.”

According to Maj. Emily Yates, a WIT co-lead and health care integrator with the 633rd Medical Group at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, her team’s work is crucial to retention.

“We have discovered that one of the reasons women leave the Air Force has been tied to medical barriers,” said Yates. “Through our health-focused line of effort, we are working on strengthening a health care system that meets our Airmen’s needs.”

In the past year, the WIT’s Female-Specialized Health Care Programs have driven several policy changes. In February, hair standard policies were changed based on feedback received from Airmen who identified numerous health concerns around the bun.

“The WIT conducted polling, interviews and other grassroots data and we found that women were experiencing headaches, hairline cysts and hair loss as a result of hair policies,” said Master Sgt. Johnathon Lind, Department of the Air Force Barrier Analysis Working Group for the WIT. “We also learned from Veterans Affairs that 40% of hair issues came from women, but women only make up 20% of the force. We knew we had to update our policies surrounding hair.

“It was through the WIT that we were able to gain the support from other Air Force entities, major commands and wing leadership. We briefed Gen. Charles Brown, Jr., Air Force Chief of Staff, and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Joanne S. Bass on the proposed changes.”

Read more: Air Force to allow longer braids, ponytails, bangs for women

Another completed initiative pushed by this team is lactation accommodation for Air Force service members and civilian employees.

“Finalized this summer, this policy change allows those who return to work, after giving birth, the appropriate accommodations to express milk while they are at work so they can both feed their baby and maintain their health,” said Anderson.

Read more: Air Force improves lactation support for nursing mothers

The U.S. Air Force also updated its convalescent leave policy for Airmen and Guardians who experience a miscarriage or stillbirth, allowing them the time to heal and recover.

With this policy update, as outlined in Air Force Manual 41-210, there will be standardized convalescent leave, distinct from parental leave policies, for service members who experience perinatal loss. This change provides a critical update to support women who do not qualify for parental leave.

“Prior to this, women would only be eligible for parental leave if they had a qualifying birth event, meaning they delivered a baby and took that baby home with them,” said Lt. Col. Larissa Weir, chief women’s health consultant to the Air Force Surgeon General. “But for women who experienced a loss, we were seeing significant variation in the duration of leave they received. We put together this update to standardize that leave based upon how far along in the pregnancy they were.”

Specifically, this policy grants up to 42 days of leave based on the woman’s gestational age and any additional medical provider recommendations. The policy also includes Airmen and Guardians who decide to place their baby for adoption immediately following birth.

The WIT is entirely made up of volunteers ranging in ranks and backgrounds who are driven to create necessary policy changes that removes barriers to service. For Lind, women’s health issues is not a women’s-only issue and should be something in which the entire Air Force should be involved.

“The WIT isn’t just for women and I am trying to be an example of that,” said Lind. “Any issue they are experiencing is also my issue. That’s what drives me to be a part of this team. When you are a minority population within a group, it can be tough to make necessary changes, so it is important we bring the whole team together to solve these problems.”

For those who are interested joining the WIT can find more information on the WIT’s Air Force Portal page [Note: This site is restricted and requires a common access card; users without a common access card will receive a website error message].
Learn More about COVID-19 and the COVID-19 Vaccine.